Ruptured Achilles Tendon

Brief Outline of Achilles Tendon Strain

Achilles tendon strains can be very painful and take some time to heal. The Achilles tendon, which gets its name from the mythological Greek warrior Achilles, is located in the back of the lower leg over the heel. An injury to this tendon can be debilitating because of its involvement in walking and even balance during weight bearing. Explosive activities such as sprinting and jumping, and those activities that involve pushing against resistance such as football linemen and weight training, contribute greatly to this injury.

Achilles Tendon Rupture

Anatomy and Physiology for Achilles Tendon

The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the human body, being approximately 15 cm long, and 2 cm thick. It originates from the musculo-tendinous junction of the calf muscles, and inserts into the posterior aspect of the calcaneus. The tendon is separated from the calcaneus by the retrocalcaneal bursa, and from the skin by the subcutaneous calcaneal bursa. It pulls the foot downward, extending it when the calf muscles contract. The strain can be graded on a scale from 1 to 3.

Grade 1 strain: A stretching or minor tear of the tendon (less than 25% of the tendon.)

Grade 2 strain: Involves more of the tendon fibres (usually 25% to 75%.)

Grade 3 strain: A complete rupture of the tendon.

Ruptured Achilles Tendon


Cause of Achilles Tendon Strain

Abrupt, forceful contraction of the calf muscles; especially when the the muscle and tendon are either cold or inflexible. Excessive force applied to the foot, forcing the foot into the plantar flexion.

Signs and Symptoms of Achilles Tendon Strain

Pain in the Achilles tendon, from mild discomfort in grade 1 strains to severe, debilitating pain in the grade 3 strains. Swelling  and tenderness may also be experienced. Pain when rising on the toes. Stiffness in the calf and heel area after resting.

Complications If Left Achilles Tendon Strain Unattended

A minor tear may become a complete rupture if left unattended. Bursitis and tendinitis may develop from the inflamed tendon rubbing over the heel.

Immediate Treatment to Achilles Tendon Strain

R.I.C.E. Anti-inflammatory medication. Then Shockwave Therapy to promote blood flow and healing. Immobilisation and medical help for complete ruptures.

Rehabilitation and Prevention for Achilles Tendon Strain

Rest is important and a gradual return to activity must be undertaken. Stretching and strengthening the calf muscles is important in rehabilitation and to prevent a recurrence. Warming-up the calf muscles properly before all activities, especially those involving forceful contractions such as sprinting, is essential to prevent strains.

Long-term Prognosis for Achilles Tendon Strain

Due to lower blood supply in tendons, they take longer to heal than the muscle, but with rest and rehabilitation, the Achilles tendon can return to normal function. Complete ruptures occasionally require surgical repair.

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